final meals

Final Meal Request — April 16, 1997

Bowl of butterbeans, mashed potatoes, onions, tomatoes, biscuits, chocolate cake and Dr. Pepper with ice. 

Final Meal Request — September 9, 1998

None. Last minute he decided to eat a hamburger at his Mother's request. 

Final Meal Request — June 26, 2001

Chocolate birthday cake with "2/23/90" written on top, seven pink candles, one coconut, kiwi fruit juice, pineapple juice, one mango, grapes, lettuce, cottage cheese, peaches, one banana, one delicious apple, chef salad without meat and with thousand island dressing, fruit salad, cheese, and tomato slices.

Final Meals is a community-based performance, event, and video installation. Each final meal requested by Texas death row inmates and published online by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice since 1982 is prepared, consumed, and filmed. To date, Lucky Pierre has re-created 197 of the 310 final meals published by the State of Texas.

Lucky Pierre and volunteers from the community cook the final meal to recreate as faithfully as possible the original request. Then, alone in a quiet room, a volunteer is videotaped eating the meal, creating a singular, solitary and contemplative performance for one.

Final Meals is created by: Holly Abney, Travis Hale, Kevin Kaempf, Jeff Kowalkowski, Heather Lindahl, Tyler B. Myers, Bill Talsma, Michael Thomas, and Mary Zerkel.

 

Final Meals has been filmed and presented at: Gallery 400,  Hull House Museum, Uri-Eichen Gallery, St. Francis House (Chicago), Entretempo (Berlin), Grand Arts (Kansas City), Luminary (St. Louis), Soo Visual Arts Center (Minneapolis), Kunstlerhaus Mousonturm (Frankfurt), Kunsthaus Graz (Graz), Detroit Contemporary (Detroit) c3:initiative & Open Engagement (Portland).

The recorded video is a single 25-minute overhead black and white shot. The performer’s face remains unseen. The food and the body are the focus in this final gesture to bodily maintenance and comfort.

At the conclusion of each filming, Lucky Pierre and project volunteers join together to screen selections from the archived final meals and to eat a shared meal. This time not alone in silence, but in the civic space of the communal dining table.

The public presentation of the video archive focuses on the monumental nature of the project—the 310 meals and 150 hours of video. The filmed meals can be shown in continuous loop on a single monitor or multiple monitors. The videos can also be projected large-scale in an indoor or outdoor space. In each of these configurations, the accumulated images of fellow citizens consuming final meals creates a monumental, yet contemplative meditation on the physical body, our collective social body, and the mechanisms of state power and responsibility.